Panasas Drives Parallel NFS

Panasas to be first storage vendor to release parallel NFS compatible storage systems

May 21, 2007

4 Min Read
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FREMONT, Calif. -- Panasas, Inc., the leader in parallel clustered storage solutions for the High Performance Computing (HPC) market, today announced the planned source code release of key components of its industry leading parallel file system client software, DirectFLOW, to accelerate the adoption of Parallel Network File System (pNFS), which is to be released as part of the NFS version 4.1 standard. This open source initiative continues the company’s leadership role in shaping the pNFS standard which was originally initiated by Dr. Garth Gibson, Panasas founder and chief technology officer.

Parallel NFS is a breakthrough technology that will solve storage I/O bottlenecks and accelerate customer deployments of parallel storage solutions. pNFS is a critical part of NFS version 4.1 (NFSv4.1), the first major performance upgrade to the widely deployed NFS in over a decade. Panasas’ DirectFLOW protocol is a precursor to the pNFS standard and provides all of the functionality expected to be available in the protocol when it is formally reviewed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) later this year. Given the close technical collaboration with the industry-wide pNFS development team and eight years of experience in parallel file system development, Panasas intends to be first supplier to offer fully pNFS compatible parallel storage systems.

To accelerate the industry’s adoption of the standard, Panasas will be releasing the source code this summer and has opened a fourth R&D center which is dedicated solely to advancing solutions based on the new pNFS standard.

“Parallel storage based on pNFS is the next evolution beyond clustered NFS storage and the best way for the industry to solve storage and I/O performance bottlenecks,” said Robin Harris, senior analyst of the Data Mobility Group. “Panasas was the first to identify the need for a production grade, standard parallel file system and has unprecedented experience in deploying commercial parallel storage solutions.”

Driven by end customer demands for greater performance due to increased use of parallelism from cluster and multi-core processor deployments, the storage industry is moving to parallel storage to dramatically improve application performance and to lower overall development costs. For parallelism to become ubiquitous, a standards approach which allows users to choose from multiple storage vendors and the freedom to access parallel storage from any client are required.Later this year, the IETF NFSv4 subcommittee is expected to conclude its work on the protocol as part of the NFS version 4.1 Request For Comment (RFC). pNFS enables direct parallel data transfer between clients and storage devices. Support is expected on Linux, Windows, and the leading UNIX versions from the major computer vendors. This new standard is being jointly developed by storage industry technology leaders and members of the NFSv4 working group, including Panasas, IBM, EMC, Network Appliance, Sun Microsystems, and University of Michigan’s Center for Information Technology Integration (CITI).

“Panasas has been the leading supplier of parallel storage solutions for many years. By open sourcing our DirectFLOW client software, we will accelerate customer adoption of next generation high performance storage solutions based on the new Parallel NFS standard,” said Victor Perez, Panasas chief executive officer. “With this release of source code, we will show the industry how we solved some of the hardest problems in parallel file systems.”

Panasas has been a leader in the development of the pNFS standard from the start. Dr. Garth Gibson co-authored the standard’s initial problem statement in 2004. Panasas has provided substantial technical input to the NFSv4 committee working on pNFS and is contributing to the Linux NFS client and server as well as to the Linux object storage driver, iSCSI driver, and SCSI stack. The concepts for the pNFS proposal were derived from the Panasas DirectFLOW protocol, which is a core component of the Panasas PanFS™ parallel file system.

“Panasas led much of the early effort to create a Parallel NFS standard,” said Peter Honeyman, scientific director of the Center for Information Technology Integration (CITI) at the University of Michigan. “We are very pleased to see Panasas’ continued commitment by adding critical IP and development resources to the Linux open source reference implementations of pNFS that we are building here at CITI.”

The Panasas’ DirectFLOW protocol currently provides nearly all of the functionality expected to be available in the NFSv4.1 RFC later this year. Ultimately, DirectFLOW will be renamed “pNFS” to signify its adherence to pNFS standards. Users and application developers can take immediate advantage of the commercially proven Panasas parallel storage system today that will be fully pNFS compatible when the standard is finalized.Panasas will be open sourcing code of the DirectFLOW client for Linux to the storage and developer community, specifically, the object layout driver and iSCSI drivers. The code will be available to the storage community on the Panasas Web site,, and at Current Panasas customers can access early releases of the code from the Panasas customer support Web site later this summer.

Panasas Inc.

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